Google Privacy Policy: State Attorneys General See Privacy Risk

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The continuing saga of Google’s new unified privacy policy has taken an interesting turn today as the attorneys general (or other ranking legal officials) from 36 US states and territories posted a letter to Google CEO Larry Page to express concern over the company’s new unified privacy policy.

The letter (PDF), which comes from the National Association of Attorneys General, expresses “strong concerns” with the new privacy policy. The letter cites several reasons for concern with the new policy. The primary concern is that the policy “appears to invade consumer privacy” by sharing information users enter in one of Google’s services with all of Google’s services. They note that consumers may not wish to have their information distributed in this way, and that the lack of any opportunity to opt out of the unification is therefore troubling. The letter also expresses concern for Android users, who are in many ways even more tied to Google’s products and services than the average internet user. For them, the letter points out, Google’s statement that those who do not like the unified policy need not sign in to their Google accounts does not apply.

The attorneys general also see a conflict between the new privacy policy and “a respect for privacy that Google has carefully cultivated as a way to attract customers.” They note that Google has repeatedly insisted that they value user privacy, and that this insistence has drawn many users to Google’s products. These users “are now having their personal information ‘held hostage’ within the Google ecosystem.”

The letter concludes with a request that Google reply to the attorneys general by February 29th to arrange a meeting to discuss the issues concerning the new privacy policy.

There is no word yet on what Google’s response to the letter will be. A request for comment sent to Google has not yet received a response.

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